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Closer Rankings: Situations reaching clarity

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A month ago, there were all sorts of guys who seemed like they might soon be getting saves. Today, there isn't much beyond the top 30.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, when I do the closer rankings, I have a spreadsheet that lets me track performances. I shrink everything down to eight-point font, have a separate line for each player, and I mark how they perform.

There are 30 lines, one for each active closer, and then another handful of lines. They are for the recently deposed guys, or the ones who would be the next-man-up for a guy who could lose his job, or just guys I think deserve attention.

At that eight-point font level, I have enough lines on my screen for 45 relievers without having to scroll, and being able to see them all on a single screen is helpful to me. A few weeks ago, though, there were enough guys that warranted attention that I couldn't keep them all on a single page. Neil Ramirez was looking like he'd get save chances with the Cubs. Joakim Soria was healthy and a closer. Joe Nathan was pitching so poorly that Joba Chamberlain got a save chance. John Axford still might have gotten the job back in Cleveland.

There were a lot of those guys, and a lot of reasons for them to be tracked. As the weeks have gone by, though, my list has gotten shorter, and my lines have gotten fewer. I'll obviously have at least 30 lines every week, because there will be 30 closers. But a list that was 50 pitchers long in early July is now 40, and it actually ought to be 33 if I were sufficiently judicious in my cutting-down.

The closers who have the jobs aren't getting hurt (with the possible exception of Aroldis Chapman, who was maybe-hurt in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader, and I wish I knew more as of this writing), and the next-men-up aren't doing markedly better than the strugglers. The best setup guys right now - Wade Davis, Dellin Betances, Ken Giles - are plying their trades in front of guys who aren't going anywhere.

This isn't any grand conclusion. It's just an acknowledgement that, right now at least, the term "closer-in-waiting" doesn't apply to many guys. There's still a month and a half left in the season, and I guaran-dang-tee you that that will change, that the 30 closers in place now won't be the 30 closers in place on Sept. 27. Someone will take and/or inherit someone else's job.

I just don't know who.

Here are this week's rankings. Remember, there are two sets of rankings. The first is the Right-Now list, and the second is the Rest-Of-Season. Next week is the last Monday in August, meaning, on the Monday after that, guys will be on the teams they'll finish the seasons with. Most likely, at least. So, at that point, I'll go back down to one list a week to finish the season.

Right-Now Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week Thoughts
1 Craig Kimbrel ATL 2 Dude is now five years into his career with 15 K/9. That's not human.
2 Sean Doolittle OAK 3 Aw, he thinks he's funny.
3 Greg Holland KAN 4 There is some worry of fatigue, but I'm comfortable with him, if only because the Royals won't keep winning this frequently.
4 Koji Uehara BOS 5 The Red Sox really should consider dealing him, but I don't expect it.
5 David Robertson NYY 6 His ERA for the season is 2.51; without his 0.2-IP, 5-ER June 1 outing, it's 1.57.
6 Kenley Jansen LAD 7 No big deal, just 13 strikeouts in his last 5.1 innings.
7 Glen Perkins MIN 9 The main thing keeping him from the top tier of closers is the fact that his team won't give him save chances.
8 Aroldis Chapman CIN 1 He imploded Sunday, then his first baseman and catcher decided he'd be hurt. I don't know, but this is where I slot the risk/reward balance.
9 Huston Street LAA 8 Finally gave up a run as an Angel, but also has only struck out one person in his last six outings. Things are getting worse.
10 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 10 It would be kind of hilarious if the Tigers added him, too, as has been rumored.
11 Mark Melancon PIT 11 Every time I think I have Melancon figured out, he flips it -- five baserunners in his last two innings.
12 Zach Britton BAL 12 He's taken to the job awfully well.
13 Joaquin Benoit SDP 14 No runs allowed since he became the closer.
14 Cody Allen CLE 15 I never expected him to keep the job all season, but by this point I'm in, especially with Axford's departure.
15 Casey Janssen TOR 21 ERA on July 2: 0.95. ERA today: 3.24.
16 Santiago Casilla SFG 17 Sergio Romo got a save, but it really appears to have been just rest for Casilla.
17 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 19 Saturday was his first run allowed since the last week of July, but the early-season dominance is gone.
18 Jake McGee TAM 20 I kept expecting Grant Balfour to turn it around, but nope. The job is likely to stay McGee's.
19 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 16 Mike Matheny gave him the vote of confidence, but he hasn't really earned one.
20 Rafael Soriano WAS 13 No strikeouts, five earned runs, eight hits, 3.1 innings in the last week. Yeesh.
21 Steve Cishek MIA 18 The numbers have been rough of late.
22 Fernando Rodney SEA 24 Seven outings in August, he's given up runs in four of them, and 10 hits total.
23 Neftali Feliz TEX 25 Some more strikeouts would be nice, but he's still getting really good results.
24 LaTroy Hawkins COL 22 I guess he'll end the season on the Rockies, which is kind of hilarious. Tulo and CarGo can't, but LaTroy Hawkins will stay on the field.
25 Addison Reed ARI 26 Even with his recent improvements, his ERA's still 3.83, his FIP's 4.21.
26 Hector Rondon CHC 27 Since July 11, he's pitched 13 innings, struck out 11, and given up only two earned runs.
27 Joe Nathan DET 23 Things in Detroit just aren't going well for Nathan.
28 Chad Qualls HOU 28 He's basically been who he's always been -- an average reliever who occasionally has bursts.
29 Jonathan Broxton CIN NR If Chapman hits the shelf for any length of time, Broxton should do reasonably well.
30 Jake Petricka CWS 29 12 baserunners in 5.1 innings in August.

Rest-Of-Season Rankings

Rank Player Team Last Week
1 Craig Kimbrel ATL 2
2 Greg Holland KAN 3
3 Sean Doolittle OAK 4
4 David Robertson NYY 5
5 Aroldis Chapman CIN 1
6 Koji Uehara BOS 7
7 Kenley Jansen LAD 8
8 Glen Perkins MIN 9
9 Huston Street LAA 6
10 Mark Melancon PIT 10
11 Zach Britton BAL 11
12 Cody Allen CLE 14
13 Jonathan Papelbon PHI 16
14 Jake McGee TAM 19
15 Casey Janssen TOR 15
16 Francisco Rodriguez MIL 17
17 Rafael Soriano WAS 12
18 Steve Cishek MIA 18
19 Trevor Rosenthal SLC 13
20 Fernando Rodney SEA 21
21 Santiago Casilla SFG 20
22 Joaquin Benoit SDP 25
23 Addison Reed ARI 24
24 LaTroy Hawkins COL 23
25 Neftali Feliz TEX 26
26 Joe Nathan DET 22
27 Chad Qualls HOU 27
28 Hector Rondon CHC 28
29 Jake Petricka CWS 29
30 Jenrry Mejia NYM 30